If you are diagnosed with an occupational disease caused by work, including firefighter cancer, you may qualify for WCB benefits and assistance. Find out what the WCB defines as an occupational disease, what diseases are covered and the minimum exposure period required for each.
If you are unable to work because of illness or disease resulting from exposure to substances or conditions in the workplace, you may claim compensation for an occupational disease just as you could for other work injuries. The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) covers both.
Before an occupational disease is covered by the WCB, it must meet these two conditions:
- It arose out of, and in the course of, employment. In other words,
(a) It is due to an activity related to your job and it would not have occurred otherwise
(b) It happened in a place associated with your job when you were performing a task that was part
of your daily work.
- It arose due to causes and conditions unique to a particular trade, occupation, industry or type of employment.
General guidelines for work-related occupational diseases
The WCB considers the following guidelines for work-related occupational diseases:
- The disease or disorder may be a result of exposure to a harmful substance, such as asbestos or silica, during employment. If you have been exposed to a harmful substance in the workplace, you should report it to the WCB even if you haven’t experienced symptoms, sought medical attention or experienced earnings loss since the exposure date.
- Exposure to harmful substances may cause workers to develop an underlying occupational disease. The cause-and-effect link may or may not be known at the time of exposure but a link is later established through scientific evidence.
- A disease or disorder typically occurs after numerous exposures, but it could be from a single traumatic exposure as well.
- A disease or disorder may come from work-related or non-work-related causes, such as medical conditions or hobbies. Regardless, the WCB will determine whether to accept your claim based on the degree of your exposure and the effect on the disease or disorder by work-related or non-work-related causes.
- If you have a pre-existing condition that has been accelerated or aggravated by work-related exposure or by a work-related disease or disorder, the WCB will still review your claim.
- Even if there is a presumption of an occupational disease under The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013, the WCB will go through the same process to determine if it is work-related.